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‘Pope is furious’: Haredim spit at Christians in Jerusalem

TJI Wrap
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‘Pope is furious’: Haredim spit at Christians in Jerusalem

Published: 6 October 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Five ultra-Orthodox Jews were arrested after spitting at Christian worshippers, amid a rise in incidents targeting priests and pilgrims.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews were filmed on Monday spitting toward Christian worshippers in the Old City of Jerusalem, as a procession of Christians with a cross passed Sukkot observers.

Four other incidents occurred on Wednesday when Christian Zionists from more than 80 nations paraded through Jerusalem in their national costumes.

The attacks were met with widespread condemnation, including by Haredi politicians and rabbis, who rejected the idea that spitting was a Jewish tradition or religious imperative.

Five men were arrested, including one of those who was filmed on Monday and four captured at the scene on Wednesday, one of them a minor.

Monday’s incident was captured on video by a reporter for Haaretz. The video shows a group of Christians exiting a church carrying a wooden cross  walk by a group of religious Jews heading the other direction. Several of the Jews then spit on the ground in the direction of the Christians as they pass.

Wadie Abu Nasser, the spokesman of the Council of Heads of Catholic Churches in Jerusalem, told Army Radio on Wednesday that the incident has reached the highest echelons of the faith. “It’s reached the whole world, up to the big boss,” he said. “The Pope is updated on every incident, he’s furious.”

Father Francesco Patton, the Vatican's custodian of Christian sites in Israel, said pilgrims are wary of visiting Israel amid the growing violence against members of the Church and against holy sites. He warned that there is a danger that such incidents could ignite antisemitism.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned any attack on religious believers. “We will show zero tolerance against those who harm worshipers,” he said, stressing, “we will take urgent steps against such actions.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau condemned the incident, stressing that “such unacceptable behaviours should not be associated with Jewish religious law in any way.”

Even National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir described the act as “worthy of condemnation” though he said the incidents were “not a criminal case” and that not everything “justifies an arrest”. Ben-Gvir previously defended the act of spitting on Christians as “an ancient Jewish custom”, a defence prominent settler Elisha Yered mounted this week.


Five arrested for spitting at Christians in Jerusalem; Police Minister: It’s not criminal (Times of Israel)

Video showing fresh Haredi spitting attack on Christians draws wide condemnation (Times of Israel)

‘Pope is furious' over anti-Christian spitting incidents, Catholic Church representative says (Haaretz)  

Franciscan Vatican envoy says attacks by Jews can ignite antisemitism (Ynet)

Netanyahu, Israeli Ministers condemn surge of incidents of Jews spitting at Christians in Jerusalem (Haaretz)  

With tensions high, anti-Christian protesters rally outside Jerusalem event (Times of Israel)

Orthodox Jews spit on Christians celebrating Feast of Tabernacles (Jerusalem Post)

Prominent settler activist says spitting on Christians 'ancient Jewish custom'

As spitting attacks continue, some religious Jerusalemites embrace Christian marchers (Times of Israel)

Spitting on Christians in Jerusalem ‘not criminal’, says Ben-Gvir


Over 1400 Jews visit Temple Mount, Palestinians threaten response (Jerusalem Post)
The "Rebel Youth" group said that "these brutal Zionist crimes and attacks will not go unpunished" in response.

Ben-Gvir backs officers filmed pushing Palestinian women in Jerusalem's Old City (Haaretz)  
Police say women were among Palestinians “chanting inflammatory nationalist slogans” as thousands of Jews visited the Western Wall and Temple Mount compound for the Sukkot holiday's Priestly Blessing.

Egyptian mediators: Continued Jewish ascent to Temple Mount will lead to escalation (Haaretz)  
A source told Haaretz that the events in Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as stricter conditions imposed on Palestinian security prisoners in Israel, could have a direct impact on events along the Gaza border.

Photo: Christian pilgrims observe Good Friday on Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem, in 2016 (Olivier Fitoussi, Haaretz)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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